Over the summer, I had the amazing opportunity to spend 6 weeks in London as part of my university’s study abroad program. This post is the fourth in an 8-week series of travel posts, where I’ll be sharing everything from my favorite places in London to my adventures in other parts of Europe (5 countries + Scotland) to my travel tips and hacks.
In this post, I’ll be sharing with you my trip to The British Open and Edinburgh, Scotland! Curious about my other summer travels? Make sure to check out my posts in the series – London Part 1, London Part 2, Dublin, and Switzerland!
Getting to Scotland
What I love most about the UK is how easy they make their public transportation system! I took the Tube in London almost every day. When I wanted to go farther outside of the city, I either took a bus or a train. The trains are clean, run on time, and aren’t too expensive! My round trip fare for the weekend (London to The Open, The Open to Edinburgh, and Edinburgh to London) was just under £100 (~$130). Not bad for almost 12 hours total of train rides! I slept most of the time, but when I was awake I loved looking at scenery of the English countryside (so many sheep!).
The British Open
After catching a 6AM train from London Euston, we arrived at the Open around noon. The Open moves around every year, and this year it was at Royal Troon, on the West Coast of Great Britain.
After having a classic(?) Scottish lunch of chicken fingers and fries, we walked around to catch a glimpse of some of our favorite players.
We eventually settled on the 6th hole grandstands to take a break! Check out these amazing views, with the waters of the Firth of Clyde on the left.
Towards the end of the day, we moved over to the 18th hole grandstands, where we watched all the players finish off their third round. I’m not a huge golf fan, but I had so much fun walking around and politely golf clapping.
We stayed at Kick Ass Hostels Edinburgh, which was super cheap (£21 for one night in a mixed 12-bed dorm room). The room and bathroom were clean, the staff was really friendly, and I loved the view from the front door!
Where in America can you say that your hostel has a view of a 12th century castle?? The hostel is also located on a really trendy street with a ton of bars and restaurants.
King Arthur’s Seat
On Sunday morning, we decided to get up early and hike up to the top of King Arthur’s Seat. At a height of 822 ft at the peak, this mountain climb is definitely not for those afraid of heights! However, the views from the top are spectacular and I would totally recommend the climb to anyone who loves a little adventure and wants a unique view of the city.
Above was our view of the mountain range at the beginning of our climb. It turns out that there’s more (even taller) mountains behind this one, which was quite a surprise once we thought that we reached the top :). Here’s some views from the actual top of King Arthur’s Seat.
As you can see from my crazy hair, it was SO WINDY AT THE TOP. I was definitely worried that I was going to get blown off the mountain at some point! In the video below you can see (and hear) just how windy it really was.
So I’m not like the most athletic person, and I was definitely a little bit winded at the top, but the views are absolutely worth it! Make sure to bring a sturdy pair of walking shoes and lots of layers. I shed all my jackets on the way up but ended up throwing them back on at the top. Also, track your steps! We were so surprised to find that we climbed over 100+ flights of stairs and walked over 6 miles, all before lunchtime!
Walking Around Edinburgh
One of the most famous parts of Edinburgh is “The Royal Mile”, which starts at the Queen’s residence in Scotland called Holyrood Palace. The street is filled with tons of shops selling everything from Scottish blankets to authentic kilts to your typical magnets and postcards. I bought a really soft wool blanket for the fam.
After hiking King Arthur’s Seat, we were pretty beat, so I just enjoyed walking around the city and checking out the cute little streets and cafes. Our train left around 6:30 PM, and we were back in London by 11!
Impressions of Scotland
Scotland ended up being one of my favorite mini-trips I took during my 6 weeks in London. I loved how green everything was, and I thought the architecture was amazing! Scotland does use the British Pound, so everything was a little pricey (1 GBP ~ $1.30). However, it was easy to find little cafes that had amazing, locally-sourced food for a reasonable price.
The weather in Edinburgh is pretty chilly, even in July! I wore a long sleeved sweater, a green Army Jacket, and a light North Face during my trip.
If I ever go back to Edinburgh, I would love to go inside the castle that I could see from my hostel! I would also love to visit the cafe and hotel where J.K. Rowling wrote most of the Harry Potter books. I heard you can stay in the exact room in the really fancy hotel where she finished the 7th novel!